My mother and father are in there. Only their faces. I had taken an old photograph, when they were both so much younger, and cut out their faces so that it fit nicely within the locket.
It's an oval cameo locket that my parents bought for me when I was a young girl. I don't remember how young but young enough so that they had to pay it for me just because I wanted it. I couldn't have been very young, though. I was probably old enough to appreciate its beauty and even its value.
It is still in its original box. The price sticker is still inside and I'm astonished even now that my parents agreed to buy it for me. It would be considered quite expensive today and it was certainly expensive during my younger days. The cameo is genuine shell and it looked almost victorian to me which was part of the appeal. I loved its design then. I love its design now.
What was the occasion, I wonder. Was it just a family outing, a day for shopping? And my big eyes must have come across the pretty cameo locket and I decided that I had to have it. If only the story were more romantic and it had been passed down to me by my mother or my grandmother or even an aunt.
I sometimes wish we had such family heirlooms, passed down from one generation to another. Maybe that's why I wanted it all those years ago. I could pass it down to my daughter or granddaughter or someone within the family that would appreciate it just as much as I did. A niece, perhaps. And the headshots within of my mother and father would, of course, remain.
My mother has jewels but I don't really care for her jewels. They are pretty, to be sure, and lovely to look at, not to mention quite valuable. But at least they would remind me of the woman who once wore them and appreciated their beauty. My father ... What did my father leave behind? Did he leave anything behind for me or for my brothers? There are always the photographs and I now wish we had more of them. There is an old family portrait taken just outside of our house. The family car is behind us and I am standing next to my father. I even remember the dress that I am wearing in that photograph. The colours are faded and the frame isn't very attractive but that particular photograph was once displayed on my father's desk in his office in a different frame. I remembered it and that was why I wanted it for myself. I was an impish little girl, not afraid to be close to my father, standing alongside my brothers and my mother, an attractive young woman with long hair. I like that photograph. I like it very much.
The cameo locket is kept away and hardly ever worn. It is taken out once in a while and admired. The clasp is then opened and I look at the faces of my mother and father. They were certainly an attractive couple. And they loved each other.
Who was this man who stood behind his wife, as they posed and smiled for the camera? I know that I will always have questions in some areas of my life. And I know that some questions can never be answered. There were people who knew him well and there were people who knew him best. But just like me, he encountered certain experiences in his life that helped to mould him, even to change him. I am older now. And I wish I knew my father better. I couldn't, of course, but I still can't help but wish that. Just as mothers and daughters have a special relationship, so do fathers and daughters. I miss that, Dad. It was easier when I was much younger, a little girl who obviously trusted her father. But then it wasn't easy anymore.
The box is noticeably old. The cameo locket is still new, even after all these years. The box protects it, keeps it safe. And I realise it is only an object, a thing, a pretty piece of jewelry to be worn around one's neck. It's not something that one would wear everyday but even now, I want to be careful with it and not wear it, preferring to keep it in its box.
The beauty and value of the cameo locket appeals to me but what I like most about it is that my parents' faces smile up at me whenever I open it. I probably am more sentimental than some people realise. And I tend to hold on to things even if they're just stored away and not seen for a very long time.
If I could only remember how old I was when the cameo locket was bought for me. Why is that so important? I don't know but I sometimes wondered about it. It just adds to the story, I suppose, to the memory of the incident. It's all these little things, you see, that I hold on to.
I'd always wanted a cameo locket with that secret compartment that one could unlock and find the treasure within. I think that was how I saw it when I was much younger. There is no secret compartment and one need only open the clasp and there, inside, is the treasure, precious only to the one who put it there. And the locket itself is also precious for my parents bought it for me. It's a lovely thing. And I like lovely things.
All these insignificant little details add up to the story. There are also the big pieces to add and they are so easy to remember and so easy to dwell upon, especially if they do not paint a pretty picture. Then there are the little things ...
Surely, one day, I will be able to pass the locket down to the next generation, to leave it behind and entrust it to the care of another. And again the question: what did my father leave behind? I look at the face in the mirror and I think of the four men I grew up with. And I know what he left behind.